Ornithogenic tundra developing near large seabird colonies with its dense vegetation creates sites for foraging, hiding and breeding of herbivores. Grazing, trampling and faeces deposition are considered as the most important ways that vertebrate herbivores influence the plants. Excrement deposition level informs us on the intensity of grazing i.e. foraging ground attractiveness. We have compared vertebrate herbivores’ faeces deposition (biomass) in the vicinity of big colonies of piscivorous (kittiwake Rissa tridactyla and Brünnich’s guillemot Uria lomvia) and planktivorous (little auk Alle alle) seabirds and the control area was in Hornsund, SW Spitsbergen. Much higher level of faeces deposition was recorded nearby seabird colonies as compared to the control area. These finding points out that vertebrate herbivores concentrate and feed more intensively on rich ornithogenic pastures. Number of herbivores and their faeces deposition level recorded nearby planktivorous seabird colony were greater as compared to those found nearby the colony of piscivores. The highest number of geese (Branta bernicla and Anser brachyrhynchus) and of their faeces biomass were found near the colony of planktivorous little auk, where distinct gradient in faeces deposition level along the colony-seashore axis was recorded. Reindeers Rangifer tarandus were observed in considerable numbers near the little auk colony, and were not recorded at all near cliff-nesting sites of kittiwakes and guillemots. Total deposition of excrements produced by geese was generally higher if compared to reindeers.
Communities of soil invertebrates were studied in 4 types of tundra ecosystems on Spitsbergen (Hornsund area) during the vegetative season of 1989. Taxonomic composition, density and biomass of soil fauna were evaluated in the sites along a gradient of increase in the biogenic impact of bird colonies, i.e. in polygonal tundra, mossy/lichenous tundra, Calliergon stramineum moss association, and mossy associations near a colony of Little Auks (Alle die). Average total biomass of soil invertebrates increased in this site sequence from 1.1 to 25.0 g wet weight x m-2 (mainly due to collembolans and nematodes). Seasonal dynamics of all groups of soil meso- and macrofauna (Nematoda, Enchytraeidae, Aranei, Acarina, Collembola, Coleoptera, Diptera larvae) is presented and discussed.
Solar radiation reflectance was analysed to characterize Arctic ornithogenic tundra developing in the vicinity of large breeding colony of Brunnich‘s guillemots Uria lomvia and kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla at the foot of Gnĺlberget cliff (Hornsund, SW Spitsbergen). Radiometric method was found to be a useful tool for studying structure and functioning of plant formations. We measured reflectance of four wavelengths: 554 nm (YG), 655 nm (RED), 870 nm (NIR) and 1650 nm (SWIR) at 10 plots situated along the transect running from the colony to the sea. Moreover, data of plant community character, species quantitative composition as well as total biomass were collected to relate these parameters with the spectral values. The results showed that radiometric data characterized vegetation well enough to recognize the same plant communities on the basis of spectral reflectance as distinguished with traditional phytosociological methods.